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Travel & Wellness

The “workation” that breathes new life into the hotel business

What if you could take your work to a fabulous destination, and go from teleworking to relaxing in a luxurious location from one minute to the next? That’s a “workation”. This new concept is appealing to hotels around the world as a way to diversify their offerings to target digital nomads with high purchasing power.

Fabio Bonavita

By Fabio Bonavita30 octobre 2020

From its initial inception about a decade ago in high-pressure Silicon Valley, the "workation" has really come into its own since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, some of the world’s largest hotels are offering this concept, which combines remote work and vacation, in order to compensate for the cratering of the market in transcontinental tourism. In France, the Hyatt chain has just started to implement it. "We are pleased to introduce the French to this still little-known concept and to offer, in this very special context, moments of life that are both productive and enjoyable in our hotels," confirms Michel Morauw, Vice President of Hyatt France. The offer combines an early check-in (starting at 8am) and a late check-out (up to 6pm), and is available in a selection of establishments such as the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme, the Hyatt Regency in Nice and, in particular, the Hotel Martinez in Cannes. The principle is simple: you work during the day and when you are done, you can dine in the house restaurant or enjoy any of the hotel’s other services.

In France, the Hyatt chain now offers a combination of work and relaxation. (DR)

Working on an atoll

According to Quentin Desurmont, founder of the Franco-Swiss agency Peplum and the Traveller Made label, this five-star teleworking solution is a no-brainer. "City hotels have always welcomed a fine business clientele during the day. Between appointments, world leaders go over a draft, read email and sometimes go for a gym session or a massage at the spa. The pandemic has simply accentuated this practice. Five-star hotels can provide all sorts of amenities and services and furthermore ensure greater health and hygiene protections." He also adds: "It is also often simpler and more pleasant to go downtown, where these establishments are generally located, instead of driving out to vast but largely empty office buildings. Finally, hotels are running at a low occupancy rate, which makes it pleasant to go there, especially since special deals make them affordable. Generally speaking, the ability of hotel players to be creative in order to better capture their local and regional market is growing." The Nautilus in the Maldives has understood the potential of this approach: this luxury resort has just launched a workation package priced at more than 23,000 dollars a week. At this price, work becomes pure pleasure with an office nestled in the heart of the Baa Atoll overlooking the Indian Ocean, laundry service, personal assistants, gourmet restaurants and cold drinks always at hand.

In the Maldives, the Nautilus offers week-long workation packages. (DR)

From Las Vegas to Singapore

"Luxury hotels need to reinvent themselves to attract a different, local clientele.

Quentin Desurmont, founder of the Traveller Made label

Also in the Maldives, One&Only Reethi Rah located on Laccadive Island, about an hour by boat from the capital Male, offers a "Stay a while longer" package combining work and relaxation. Holding your Zoom meetings from one of the luxurious villas will run you 42,000 dollars for two people for seven nights – and yes, of course, high-speed Wi-Fi and childcare are also available. In the absence of its international clientele, Singapore's Fullerton Hotel has also embraced this concept and offers 12-hour room rentals with flexible check-in times from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The suites are equipped with free Wi-Fi, state-of-the-art flat-screen TVs and private balconies with river views. In Las Vegas, MGM Resorts offers workations at two of its resorts, the Aria and the Vdara. Their website lists the main selling point: "Once the working day is over, you can relax at the casino, enjoy world-class cuisine and sleep like a king in a plush bed that you won't have to make in the morning. In addition, you'll receive up to $375 in restaurant credits and your own executive assistant will help you make reservations and appointments, making sure you have everything you need during your stay."

The workation concept is appealing to hotels all over the world. (Unsplash)

Remaining desirable

Desurmont says that this vision of telework as cocooning is essential. "As long as there is no vaccine or treatment, city hotels will keep struggling for at least the next six months. It is essential to reinvent ourselves to bring in a different and local clientele. In Paris, the Bristol succeeded in bringing in a new “drive-in” clientele that might never have otherwise set foot inside. Hotel Brach opened early this summer and immediately attracted a clientele that could not get to other establishments, almost all of which were closed this summer. Five-star establishments must remain visible and desirable, because they are more than just hotels, they are icons, wonderful places to be thanks to the elegance of their spaces and the perfection of their service."

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